ROJoson’s Publication in MDH Good Health, March – April, 2012
What is breast wellness in women’s health?
Note: Errors in publication – see corrections below.
Original paper submitted to MDH Good Health editors.
What is breast wellness in women’s health?
Reynaldo O. Joson, MD
Women’s health refers to health issues associated with the female anatomy, particularly the breasts and genitalia. The health issues may also be associated with physiological and social conditions that are more notably encountered in the females than in males and which are of a magnitude to be considered as community concerns.
With breast cancer being the No. 1 cancer in the Philippines not only among females but in the two sexes combined based on the 2010 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates, it is definitely a health issue among women and is affecting their physical and mental well-being, or what I call “breast wellness.”
In this log, I wrote down my thoughts, perceptions, opinions, and recommendations on breast wellness of a person and for a community.
What is /are the usual and recommended concepts of BREAST WELLNESS in a Person?
Usual Concept: Absence of breast abnormality or disease
ROJoson’s Recommended Concept:
A state wherein there is NO breast issue (in the domain of symptoms, diseases, and fear and anxiety even in the absence of disease) that affects the physical, mental and social well-being and / or the socioeconomic productivity of a person.
Breast issue includes anything under the sun but usually can be categorized into three areas or domains, namely, symptoms referable to the breasts; breast diseases; and fear and anxiety of breast disorder, specially breast cancer, even in the absence of real disease.
This concept is deduced from the World Health Organization’s definition of HEALTH and the common definitions of WELLNESS. “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (WHO)
Breast wellness in a person also includes the following concepts:
- illness is NOT an impediment to well-being;
- illness and health are NOT two opposite poles, but two dimensions; and
- one can be physically ill and yet can feel healthy.
Note: For the women with breast cancers, especially those in remission, they can be considered healthy. They can feel healthy even if they have a history of breast cancer.
What is the recommended concept of BREAST WELLNESS for a Community?
A state wherein there is NO breast issue (in the domain of diseases and fear and anxiety even in the absence of disease) that affects the physical, mental, and social well-being and/or socioeconomic productivity of a significant number of persons in the community.
Situation in the Philippines
In the Philippines, a lot of the female population who are aware of the magnitude of the breast cancer problem, who have family history of breast cancers, and who have been subjected to routine screening with mammography and ultrasound suffer from imaginary breast health problem. Imaginary breast health problems are usually seen in people who think they have but in reality they don’t have real breast disorders.
Here are some examples of commonly expressed concerns of Filipino women:
1. “My breast is painful. I may have breast cancer.”
2. “I have a family history of breast cancer. I may have breast cancer.”
3. “I may have breast cancers because there are findings (cysts, nodules, complex cysts, calcifications) on my mammography and ultrasound.”
The solution to reduce the magnitude of the imaginary breast health problem among the Filipino female population is a combination of intense public health education to dispel myths and to allay fear and a judicious use of mammography and ultrasound.
ROJoson’s Recommendations for Breast Clinics / Centers:
All breast clinics / centers should look at the concepts of breast wellness both in a person and for a community when they formulate their programs in order for the latter to be systematic and holistic. Most if not all breast clinics / centers just focus on diagnostic tests particularly mammography and ultrasound. Most of them end up sowing more fear and anxiety on breast cancer rather than promoting breast wellness among women.
Visit: https://breastwellness.wordpress.com for more ROJOSON’s blogs on breast wellness.